Wednesday, 21 September 2011

PLO bid to statehood before the UN

Today, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) will bid for its statehood before the UN. However, there are numerous legal opinions to counter such action where one of the concerns is pointed out at the challenges and risks facing Palestinians those who live within the the Occupied Territories and also largely those in the diaspora, if indeed 'state of Palestine' is actually established. This include for instance, the issues of Palestinian rights, representation, and the right of return and self-determination, which may all be seriously affected by the outcome of the bid. Here is an article produced by Al Jazeera English which outlines the facts behind the bid.

Background: The facts behind the bid
What status do the Palestinians currently have? And what would change after a "yes" vote in September?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will request recognition of a fully-fledged state at the United Nations when he goes to the world body next week, defying fierce opposition from Israel and the US.

Here are some of the reasons behind the push, as well as possible consequences:

What status do the Palestinians currently have at the UN?

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) currently has observer status at the UN, which allows PLO representatives to attend meetings and deliver speeches, but not to vote on resolutions or other substantive matters.

Observer status is generally reserved for intergovernmental organisations, including the European Union and the Arab League. A few non-governmental organisations, like the Red Cross, also have observer status.

Why do the Palestinians want to "go to the UN" in September?

Abbas says 20 years of US-led peace talks have gotten nowhere and wants a vote in the United Nations to bestow the Palestinians with the cherished mantle of statehood. However, he recognises that negotiations with Israel will still be needed to establish a properly functioning state.

Justifying the move, the Palestinians point to the success of a Western-backed, two-year plan to build institutions ready for statehood, which they say is now finished.

How does the UN admit new member states?

Countries seeking to join the United Nations usually present an application to the UN secretary-general, who passes it to the Security Council to assess and vote on. If the 15-nation council approves the membership request, it is passed to the General Assembly for approval.

A membership request needs a two-thirds majority, or 129 votes, for approval. A country cannot join the United Nations unless both the Security Council and General Assembly approve its application.

Could the Palestinians actually join the UN?

In theory, yes. But Washington has made clear it would veto such a request, meaning it has no chance of success. Even if the Palestinians secured a two-thirds majority of votes in the General Assembly, there is no getting around the need for prior approval of the Security Council.

Is "non-member state" status an option?

In addition to applying to become a full UN member state, the Palestinians could also seek upgraded observer status as a non-member state.

Only one other state - the Vatican - currently holds this status, though Switzerland did until it became a full UN member in 2002. Such status, UN envoys say, could be interpreted as implicit UN recognition of Palestinian statehood because the assembly would be acknowledging that the Palestinians control an actual state.

The advantage of this option is that it would require only a simple majority of the 193-nation General Assembly, not a two-thirds majority. Abbas said on Friday that more than 126 states already recognise the state of Palestine, meaning he could probably win such a vote with ease.

Why do the Palestinians want recognition on the 1967 lines?

The Palestinian Authority (PA) says placing their state firmly in the context of territory seized by Israel in the 1967 war will provide clear terms of reference and will mean Israel could no longer call the land "disputed". Instead, it will make clear it is "occupied".

Besides granting them the all-important title "state", diplomats say it might enable the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court, from which it could pursue legal cases against Israel over the partial blockade of Gaza or regarding the settlements.

Israel fears this will in turn enable Palestinians to start legal proceedings at the ICC against some 500,000 Israelis who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
What are the practical consequences of the vote?

The idea of the United Nations "recognising" Palestine is perhaps a bit misleading, because the UN does not recognise countries - individual states do. More than 120 countries have already recognised the state of Palestine.

Yet UN recognition would certainly be a symbolic victory - as Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has described it - cementing the idea that a Palestinian state exists.

In practice, the impact of the vote - particularly in the short-term - will be limited. A "yes" vote at the UN will neither end the occupation nor give Palestinians full control over their state - borders, airspace, etc.

What are the potential disadvantages to the Palestinians?

Israel could decide to counter sue the Palestinians at the ICC over missiles fired at it out of Gaza, which is run by Hamas.

Some critics have warned of legal consequences for the Palestinians themselves, arguing the move could jeopardize the rights of refugees and the status of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Others have dismissed the argument that Palestine's UN mission represents only those Palestinians living within the state of Palestine. But those in the diaspora, which in theory has a voice through the PA, could be left without representation.

If the UN vote does not change things on the ground in the Palestinian territories, the standing of the Palestinian leadership could be further undermined when the dust settles.

Some Israelis have warned disappointment could fuel anti-Israeli violence and even spark a new Intifada. PA officials have dismissed that prospect.

Are there other possible negative consequences?

Yes, both for the Palestinian Authority itself, and for the Palestinian population as a whole.

Israeli officials have suggested a range of possible measures, including limiting travel privileges for Palestinian leaders seeking to exit the West Bank, halting the transfer of crucial tax revenues to the Palestinians and even annexing West Bank settlement blocs to try to sidestep ICC legal action.

Some US officials have warned that they might cut their annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, which runs to some $450m - more than 10 per cent of the PA's annual budget.

It is far from clear if they will enact these threats. Depriving the PA of funds, for example, would rapidly push it to financial collapse, which would provoke instability.

In the case of bankruptcy, some leading Palestinians argue that the PA should hand over the keys of the big West Bank cities to Israel and tell it to pay for the ongoing occupation.

For more articles regarding this topic, click here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Clash of Civilizations?

In 1993, a Harvard professor, Samuel Huntington gave a chilling analysis about the future of the world. He laid out the so-called 'clash of civilization' thesis. A thesis outlined that in the near future, a war will not be fought between nations, but instead, between cultures and civilizations. A thesis found to resonate with Osama bin Laden. It was exactly that kind of prophecy that he was so hungry of. A prophecy that can convince not just those who are oppressed, but also those who see themselves as representatives of the 'attacked' civilization or religion. A battle between good and evil. A cosmic war. A war that will never cease. Al Jazeera has succeeded in producing a remarkably brilliant documentary outlining the chilling events that ensued based on the particular thesis prophesied by Huntington. A prophecy that has since changed the world.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The 'Death' of Osama?

Last Tuesday around mid-day, I learned about the death of Osama bin Laden. The most wanted man in the world. One might ask how do I feel about it? To be honest, I was absolutely overwhelmed with shock and couldn't help having a hint of skepticism upon hearing the news. I thought this is probably another one of those conspiracy theory came up by the CIA or the FBI, desperate to clear up its tarnished image and for once wanting to be hailed as the true hero. A man that has for the sake of finding him erupted two great wars in both the Middle East and South Asia and resulted in an immense number of civilian deaths. He is also the man whose extreme narratives gave rise to a global terror network which pledged to wage holy wars against the non- Muslims. This is also the man that vowed to defend Muslims who are oppressed and suppressed across the world. Indeed, he did prevail in 'defending' the Muslims. One stark example is the ostracization and stigmatization of Muslims in the West post 9/11. The actions this man taken also witnessed crackdowns on normal, ordinary Muslims in the Muslim world. Somehow, having a beard and attending the mosque seem extreme and radicalized in the eyes of the dictators, Ben Ali, Mubarak and Qaddafi to name a few.

Yes. No doubt that this one man has done absolute destruction to the world. I should actually be content upon hearing his death. However, this news to me still left a vast space of ambiguity and vagueness. Even Obama's words failed to erase my skepticism of the whole operation. Without authentic photographs and videos, it's hard to believe what really went down. The fact that he was laid to rest in the vast ocean also left me puzzled. One question is playing in my head right now. What is the purpose of them burying him in the sea? Can't he just be buried in the ground like everyone else? I know that the questions really sound stupid. Why would you want to pay the last respect to the father of all terrorists by giving him a proper burial and all? It just doesn't make any sense does it? But, again, I do believe that I have the right to be fully convinced that he truly is dead. And the Obama administration has that massive responsibility on its shoulder to eradicate any critical comments and skepticism that they should have seen coming anyway. They should not need to waste any more time deliberating whether to release the evidence or not as this would just create a big room for conspiracy theories to emerge especially by the tough ritics and sceptics of America’s foreign policy. It would also make the global audience to think twice about hailing the Americans as the true hero.

Another point that is fairly significant to note of this 'kill bin Laden mission' is the location of bin Laden's hideout was after all in the city north of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Not in those mountainous range in Afghanistan where the Western military analysts have constantly speculated bin Laden to be hiding. Not in Afghanistan where thousands of Western troops have flocked in and perished for the sake of finding this one man. Not in Afghanistan or even Iraq where military invasions have witnessed deaths of tens or probably hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. Not in those two countries where the United States and the EU have for a decade allocated trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to support the military invasion of these countries.

So, a suspicion is now raised over the hideout location of bin Laden’s all this while. Pakistan. Did the Pakistani army or any of its intelligence agencies know about his location all along? Did the FBI and CIA also know about his whereabouts? These are the questions that yet to be answered.
As with now, I am still critical and sceptical of the whole operation and I don’t believe that Obama had indeed get Osama. Arrays of questions are still yet to be answered and I will be counting the days for that day to come where all of them are answered.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The drawbacks of intervention in Libya

This article was written and submitted before the passage of UNSC Resolution 1973.

The Libyan uprising is entering its fourth week. The courage and persistence of the Libyan people's efforts to overthrow Gaddafi have been met with ongoing regime brutality ranging from shoot-to-kill policies to the indiscriminate use of artillery against unarmed civilians.

In addition to the current no-fly zone, the UN Security Council unanimously issued a resolution imposing tough measures against the Libyan regime including an arms embargo, asset freeze, travel ban and a referral of the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

The desire to act in solidarity with the Libyan people demands that we assess the available options against the core principle of legitimacy that any intervention must satisfy: Do no harm (that is, do not do more harm on balance by intervening).

The likelihood that coercive intervention would satisfy this principle is severely constrained when evaluated against the historical record, logistical realities, and the incentives and interests of the states in a position to serve as the would-be external interveners.

Put simply, coercive external intervention to alter the balance of power on the ground in Libya in favor of the anti-Gaddafi revolt is likely to backfire badly.

The attendant costs would, of course, be borne not by those who call for intervention from outside of Libya but by the Libyan people with whom we hope to show solidarity. In what follows we argue that embracing the call for solidarity requires a much more careful appraisal of the interventionist option, precisely because the potential risks will be borne by Libyan civilians.

Mixed motivations

Of the arguments against intervention, the most straightforward draws on an assessment of the long history of external intervention in the Middle East and North Africa.

There is no need to rehearse that history here since the failure of such past interventions to advance the humanitarian welfare or political aspirations of local populations is well-established. But because the possibility of intervention is debated in some circles as if the starting point is a clean slate, it is important to begin by recalling this dismal history. For instance, the imposition of a no-fly-zone on Iraq did little in and of itself to shift the balance of power against the Saddam Hussein regime, but it did result in the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

Further, the no-fly zone served as a predicate for the subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq insofar as the ongoing use of this coercive measure against the regime from 1991 until 2003 was cited in support of the argument that there was "implied authorisation" to forcibly topple the regime.

While humanitarian considerations are often invoked in defense of intervention, humanitarianism is far from the only issue on the table. Other reasons that have been adduced in favor of intervention in Libya include vindicating international norms, re-establishing the leadership of the US in the region, preventing spill-over of the refugee crisis into Europe, and the stabilisation of world oil markets. The Libyan people are struggling to change their regime on their own terms and there is no reason to presume an overlap between these various logics of intervention and their interests.

The historical record clearly establishes that an external regime change intervention based on mixed motives - even when accompanied with claims of humanitarianism - usually privileges the strategic and economic interests of interveners and results in disastrous consequences for the people on the ground. Indeed, the discord currently evidenced among Western powers concerning intervention in Libya is precisely based in their doubts as to whether their strategic interests are adequately served by such a course.

The incongruence between the interests of external interveners and those on the ground in Libya is already apparent. Beyond their eleventh hour timing, serious mobilisations for intervention on the part of Western powers were issued only after most Western nationals had been safely evacuated from Libya.

The fact that outside powers were unwilling to act while their nationals were on Libyan soil demonstrates their understanding that treating the regime with coercion may lead to civilian deaths either directly as a result of an intervention or indirectly through reprisals against civilians identified as opponents.

Furthermore, the evacuation channels made available to Western nationals – airlifts across the Mediterranean – were not and are not being offered to Libyan civilians nor African migrant workers trapped in Libya. If the humanitarian welfare of civilians in Libya were paramount, they, too, would have been offered this secure escape route. Instead, once Western nationals were safely out of harm’s way, coercive measures were adopted without any effort to protect or evacuate the civilians that were left behind in Tripoli and beyond.

No-fly zone, local calls, and solidarity

To be clear, we are not categorically rejecting any and all forms of intervention irrespective of the context. Instead, we reject forms of intervention that, on balance, are likely to produce more harm than benefit. This is a context-specific determination that requires an assessment of the forseeable consequences of particular proposed interventions. With respect to the context in Libya today we are critical of current proposals for intervention in light of the identities and interests of would-be interveners and the limited understanding of intra-Libyan political dynamics on which they rely. There are circumstances under which a no-fly zone might conceivably serve a humanitarian purpose.

In particular, if air strikes were the principal means by which the regime was inflicting civilian casualties, there would be a much stronger case for a no-fly zone. Though the military situation within Libya remains unclear, the empirical evidence that is available suggests that Gaddafi’s artillery poses a more serious threat to both civilians and rebels than air strikes.

In addition, the regime's aerial assaults have primarily employed helicopter gunships, which would be difficult to counter through a no-fly zone because they fly lower and are harder to target than warplanes.

Further, the no-fly zone imposed through the UN Security Council involves attacks on Libyan runways, radars, and anti-aircraft artillery installations with the potential for significant "collateral damage" against civilians and civilian infrastructure. A no-fly zone that risks killing Libyans would also run the risk of strengthening the regime's hand by enabling Gaddafi to style himself as an anti-imperialist defender of Libyan sovereignty.

Rather than persuading elements of the military and air force to defect, such a move might produce a counter-productive rally-round-the-flag effect in parts of Libya still under the control of the regime.

The fact that for logistical and political reasons a no-fly zone poses a serious risk of backfiring is an important consideration. But it is not the only reason to question whether heeding local calls for a no-fly zone necessarily represent an act of solidarity.

Fragmentation risk

Furthermore, a response to calls emanating from one region may risk fragmenting the country. The fact that we know so little about the domestic context among non-regime actors in Libya is precisely the reason that the types of external intervention currently taking place are likely to backfire.

The desire to act in solidarity with local Libyans struggling for their liberation is important. But without a clear sense of the consequences of a particular intervention – or the interests and diverse actors likely to be impacted – there is no way to satisfy the do-no-harm principle. Notwithstanding the provenance of the no-fly zone – whether within Libya or the Arab League – and their attendant "authenticity" or legitimacy, we cannot justify intervention unless we can appraise its likely consequences for the civilian population with whom we are allegedly acting in solidarity.

This difficulty is further compounded by the fact that neither the Western nor Arab powers currently calling for intervention have a record of privileging particular domestic partners based on the interests or aspirations of local populations. There is little reason to expect that Libya will be exceptional in this regard, particularly in light of the mixed motives of any potential intervener.

We do not argue that the international community has no obligation to support Libyan civilians. To the contrary, we strongly believe there is such an obligation, but that current coercive options pose serious risks to the Libyan population with little concomitant benefit in terms of humanitarian protections.

The interests of potential external interveners are not well aligned with those of Libyans on the ground beyond that of regime change.

Further, the identities of involved in the process of intervention reinforce concerns about such proposals. Many members of the Arab League are currently undertaking repression of democratic uprisings against their rule. The legitimacy and representativeness of any call they issue should be called into question by their own internal anti-democratic practices.

As Saudi troops operate in Bahrain to shore up the defenses of an authoritarian ruling family against its own people, the bankruptcy of calls for intervention in Libya by members of the GCC and the Arab League is evident.

Members of the Group of 8 are also compromised by their ambivalence towards democratic demands met with repression by their regional allies and their own long history of brutal interventions and direct support of authoritarian regimes.

ICC referral 'counter-productive'

Libyans have already made great inroads on the ground and without external support towards a goal of regime change in which they will determine the day-after scenarios for their country.

To date, measures adopted by the international community have done little to aid, and may have undermined, Libyan efforts at liberation. For instance, the call for an ICC referral in the measures adopted by the UN Security Council was most likely counter-productive. The first priority should have been a negotiated exit strategy for Gaddafi and his family, not unlike the path already paved for the other recently deposed Arab despots, Ben Ali and Mubarak.

Instead, by immediately referring the regime for investigation by the ICC the international community has signaled to Gaddafi that neither he nor his children will be allowed to go quietly, potentially redoubling his resolve to fight to the last.

Allowing a negotiated exit to exile in an African or South American country would not have precluded a subsequent ICC referral, but might have facilitated an early end to the violence currently ravaging Libya. Further, the same resolution that referred Libyan authorities to the ICC contained a specific exemption from ICC jurisdiction for foreign interveners not party to the Rome Statute, anticipating and providing impunity in some cases for civilian deaths that result from possible UN Security Council-authorised operations in Libya down the line.

The ICC referral has been described as an attempt to incentivise those around Gaddafi to defect. Rather than vindicating international accountability, this logic of incentives suggests impunity for last-minute defectors notwithstanding decades of crimes against the Libyan population.

At its most basic, the ICC referral represents the triumph of a set of international goals (vindicating a constrained conception of international accountability through the Libyan regime) over the immediate interest in an early resolution of the Libyan crisis through the provision of a regime exit strategy. This privileging of international over local interests is typical of external intervention and would only be exacerbated by options involving the use of force.

Useful assistance

We argue for forms of international assistance that reverse this privileging and begin from the known interests of Libyan civilians. At a minimum, resources must be mobilised to offer relief supplies to the Libyan population that is currently outside of the control of the regime (bearing in mind some of the problematic dynamics also associated with such forms of "aid").

Urgent priority should be given to addressing shortages of medical supplies and provision of essential foods and clean water. Beyond these basics, an evacuation corridor for civilians – including non-Libyan African workers trapped in the territory – should be secured and responsibility for shouldering the burden of refugee flows should not be restricted to Tunisia and Egypt.

To the contrary, rather than imposing these costs on Libya's poorest neighbors – in the early stages of transitions of their own – Libya’s relatively wealthy northern neighbors in Europe should be absorbing a much larger share of the costs, human and material, of offering refuge to fleeing civilians.

The fact that the airlifting of Libyan and other African civilians to safety out of Tripoli is an option that is not currently on the table speaks eloquently to the misalignment of priorities. Dropping the xenophobic European rhetoric on the "dangers" of African immigration would also have the benefit of removing one of the Libyan regime's major levers with the EU.

As Gaddafi threatens to terminate the agreements by which he has been warehousing African migrants at Europe's behest, he lays bare the cruel logic of tacit alliances (based on immigration, energy, and security interests) that has long lent support to his rule.

A Europe willing to take concrete steps to facilitate the evacuation to its own shores of civilians who wish to leave Libyan territory regardless of nationality would at least have broken with its record of shameful complicity in regime brutality.

Acting in solidarity with the Libyan people within a do-no-harm principle presents many constraints and frustratingly few options. This is not because of an absence of concern for the interests of the Libyan population but because there are few good options beyond the provision of relief supplies and evacuation channels.

Support Libyan rebels?

There may be other alternatives short of external coercive intervention that might be considered – such as sharing tactical intelligence with Libyan rebels or jamming regime communications – though such options would have to be carefully evaluated in light of potential risks.

By contrast, overt and covert coercive options ranging from no-fly zones to arming Libyan rebels or using regional commandos to train them all implicate external actors in altering the balance on the ground in unpredictable ways.

To engage in such coercive strategies without being able to evaluate the full range of consequences amounts to subordinating the interests of the Libyan people to our own sense of purpose and justice.

We strongly advocate creative strategies of solidarity with the Libyan people while underscoring that calls for coercive external intervention do not qualify. Indeed, it is possible that demands for Western support to the rebels may already have done more harm than good.

In the end, we argue for humility in imagining the role we might play in the course of Libyans' struggle. The international community is neither entitled to take the reins today nor dictate the post-regime scenario tomorrow. Further, those of us who wish to stand in solidarity with Libyans from outside of their country must recognise that we may not be best placed to identify which local actors enjoy broad-based support.

Solidarity cannot be reduced to the diplomatic politics of recognition nor to arguments for external intervention.

In the end, we counsel acting from the outside only when our actions are clearly aligned with the interests of Libyan civilians. Imaginative strategies to offer much-needed relief and refuge to Libya’s vulnerable population represent a challenge the international community has yet to meet. That is a good starting point for transnational solidarity.

Asli Ü. Bâli is a professor of law at the UCLA School of Law. Her research interests also include comparative law of the Middle East.

Ziad Abu-Rish is a doctoral candidate in UCLA's Department of History. He is the co-editor of Jadaliyya Ezine.

Credit to Al Jazeera English

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Arabs have spoken out, finally!

February 17, 2011 witnessed a commencement of another uprising reverberating across Middle East. This time the clarity of the voices coming out of Libya was unprecedented and unstoppable. Another North African nation that apparently has had enough envisioning and waiting for the idea of democracy deemed universal for every individual to come into fruition in 42 years under brutal and barbaric dictatorship of Col Muammar Gaddafi. However, the popular upheavals descended quickly into carnage and brutality. It is indeed very important to reflect on the humble beginning of this political domino effect that has mobilized millions upon millions of people and turning the world’s eyes towards their plights that have been long ignored by their iron-clad rulers.

It begins with a moment of terrible desperation for a frustrated and furious Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself ablaze driven mad by the brutality of local officials. His heroic act has then become somewhat a catalyst that sparked popular revolutions across the Middle East against the sheer authoritarianism that dominates the political landscape. He has also succeeded to convey the vented grievances and legitimate aspirations of every Arab society forced to be kept silenced for decades. He has emboldened the voices of the poor and unfortunates across the region. His act of self-immolation then revered as a symbol of resistance and inspired others to mobilize popular revolts crying out discontentment against the regimes. Suddenly, Arabs across the region breached through the fear barricades that defying the state brutality has cowed them prior to the self-immolation act in Tunisia. Now, a unifying confident new Arab voice demanding citizenship and human rights can be heard resonating across the region. Outgrown by the oblivion of the states towards their initial demands, the demonstrators began insisting for the removal of the dictators. As a result, some of the most notorious dictators in the region have been toppled down by the mighty power of the people’s dignities. First, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled the country, then Hosni Mubarak of Egypt waived the office, and one can assume the list will continue to go on charting extraordinary history of a new Arab democracy. This gives birth to a modern Arab culture and it has indeed changed the entire world.

Leaders of countries like Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen also seemed shaken to core by the revolutionary wave hitting the region. The fear of being overthrown by popular insurrections and in also seems like desperate final attempts at clinging to powers, the leaders of these nations came up with several concessions to recede the tides of anger and animosity of the public towards their governments. Political repression, economic stagnation, high rate of unemployment, in a region where young people consists one third of the population, the Arab world in reality is a demographic time bomb. And now, the society that has long brandished by the West as a peculiarly docile and apathetic rose up against decades of political and economic repression worked against them.

Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and many others play a pivotal role in giving birth to the revolutions unfolding before our eyes. For instance, a Facebook page or group managed to mobilize millions and millions of ordinary people to speak out against their governments. Tweets can be sent to inform and share the latest news of what is actually taking place on the ground to the rest of the world, while, Youtube allows amateur journalists to upload and share the powerful images and videos for the rest of the world to see. Hence, the power of technology is unquestionably unprecedented and global.

This is indeed an Arab spring. Truly, the West has plenty to learn through the events that are unfolding in the Arab world at present. The relentless perseverance and solidarity demonstrated by the Arabs defying the state’s security apparatus and machineries that have for long repressed them was exceptionally awe-inspiring and remarkable. They have crossed the vital threshold which later witnessed the toppling down of the so-called strongmen of the Arab world and the crumbling down of their despotic regimes.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Peace bullish or 'bullshit'

By Marwan Bishara (Al-Jazeera English)in
on July 8th, 2010

The good news: "Netanyahu to give peace process a 'robust push". The bad news, any rational person privy to the ideology and makeup of the Israeli government knows this not serious.

And yet, after their meeting, Barak Obama, the US president, has publically supported his Israeli interlocutor, saying he believed Binyamin Netanyahu would take "risks for peace" and praised the Israeli prime minister for easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Obama also called for "direct talks" between Israelis and Palestinians irrespective of the continued illegal settlements.

All of which begs two questions: How does a defunct and discredited diplomatic process continue to masquerade as a success despite its utter failures? And why the US and its Western allies continue to finance and pamper it when it creates more instability and conflict than peace and progress?

The short answer is bullshit.

In is attempt to define bullshit and theorise about its uses and meanings, Harry Frankfurt, the Princeton philosopher, has differentiated between bullshit and lies in his book On Bullshit, and concluded that bullshit can be more dangerous than lying.

Bullshit is more than a word; it is a chronic widespread system of rhetoric and representation that mystifies the truth. It has increasingly become a way of communication not only in the private sphere but has become part and parcel of Western propaganda.

Falafel to fanfare

At times, according to Frankfurt, sincerity also qualifies as bullshit. This is especially true when those uttering it are in denial over their true motivation. This explains why many of the stubborn advocates of the present peace process bullshit even when they are being sincere.

In fact, I cannot but shake my head in bewilderment whenever I am exposed to the "peace industry". Peace and co-existence initiatives by NGOs have used everything from falafel to fanfare and music but failed utterly to improve the situation. Instead, they have contributed to make the occupation look as normal.

Having said that, I do not discount the great degree of lying in the process. But unlike the lies and deception, bullshit has created an aura around the peace process.

How many doubt that the timing of Obama's invitation to the Israeli prime minister ahead of the fall midterm congressional elections is more about domestic politics than foreign policy.

As one Washington Post columnist commented sardonically, it would have been appropriate for Obama who reprimanded Netanyahu before, to have flown the white flag of surrender during the visit.

Mostly bullshit is about spreading half truths, fake statements that allow what amounts to a de facto war process of occupation and colonisation to masquerade as a peace process causing major suffering and destruction.


Since the so called "peace process" started two decades ago, all promises of progress, peace and prosperity, have turned into disappointment, conflict and regress.

After hundreds of meetings, tens of initiatives and seven interim agreements, the situation in the Israeli occupied territories might have "improved" in certain micro areas, but at a macro level it has notably worsened.

During that time, the peace process has bestowed on an ever more aggressive Israeli occupier and increasingly discredited Palestinian Authority the title of "peace partners".

In the process, colonisation deepened, the colonised suffered and nonsense triumphed.

Despite recent assurances to the contrary, illegal Jewish settlements continue to proliferate and destabilise the West Bank and especially East Jerusalem.

A report, on the eve of Netanyahu's visit, by the Israeli organisation B'Tselem on the proliferating Jewish settlements despite assurances to the contrary speaks volumes about Israeli deception regarding the settlement issue.

Now the Netanyahu government is promising "improvements" on its blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, but the end result is clear: it will continue to police, and treat the impoverished and overpopulated refugee camp like the mega prison it has become.

Likewise, despite talk of economic revival under the Palestinian Authority, the standard and quality of living in the semi-autonomous areas of the West Bank is below 1980s levels, when the West Bank was under full Israeli occupation. It continues to deteriorate relative to Israel, which is now a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club for developed countries.

It is mind boggling that the likes Tony Blair, the International Quartet envoy, gets away with promoting improvement in life conditions and better "security" at the heart of the miserably occupied territories.

Netanyahu's focus on economic rather than political rights for the Palestinians has led to no real improvement in the movement of labour and capital, nor in true amelioration of the access to health, education, let alone to the outside world.

With the exception of a number of English speaking "peace process contractors" (those living off politically motivated Western aid), most Palestinians continue to live in destitution.

Comparing the situation between the refugee camps the moderates' administer in the West Bank and those run by "extremists" in Gaza is like comparing the situation in two prisons.

Bluffing is of course integral to or even indispensable for diplomacy, but it generally has limits or is a side show for something more strategic. So what is the strategy behind the promotion of the defunct peace process?

Private club

Since the end of the Cold War, the Middle East peace process has emerged as the US regional order.

Entire peoples and states have been judged on where they stood on the peace process. Those, especially among the Arabs who supported it have been called moderates and those opposed as extremists.

The "Peace Process" became a private club whose membership carried a number of strategic advantages, while being on the outside risked sanctions, even war.

Paradoxically, over the last two decades, both the US, the sponsor of the peace process, and Israel, its ally and peace partner, have waged destructive and bloody wars in the region.

But both remained untouched as sponsor and partner in the peace process.

If these were any other countries, they would have been sanctioned, blockaded and bombarded, even occupied.

This explains why Israel's most infamous general was referred as a "man of peace" by George Bush, the self-proclaimed US "war president".

Promoting the peace process has become a strategic reality, even necessity, regardless of its realisation or implementation.

There are far better ways to free Israelis from the political and moral burden of their occupation, and bring Palestinians liberty and independence from foreign occupation.

But the peace process is the best way to maintain Pax Americana in the region, secure Jewish support in the US while pampering the special relationship between the US and Israel.

Given the choice between peace in the Middle East and peace between the US and Israel, the Obama administration has made its choice known this week.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

World Cup Songs Mania!

I seriously have no idea why I am got hooked by World Cup BIG TIME this time around. It's pretty ironic because usually I got all pissed when people starting to talk about football like there is no other exciting topics to talk about at this time of year. But, anyhow, I kinda stumbled upon this awesome spirit-boosted song by K'naan entitled Waving Flag which apparently is the World's Cup 2010 official song. I youtubed it and a couple of official videos for it appeared, but to try not to make my blog looks kinda boring with the same songs, I've selected the one featuring Nancy Ajram, the Arabic singing sensation sponsored by Coca Cola (duhh!). I've chosen this one coz I kinda found it awesome and also coz I am kinda like into this Arabic thing so glad to have found this one.

There is actually another official video under the same name but featuring artists such as Will.I.Am and David Guetta that perhaps sound more familiar to lots of people. But I gotta say, I don't really like it as much as I liked the original one due to perhaps little bits of changes in the compositions of melody and tunes of the song.(honestly, I am no expert on music, so you can just excuse my babble just now about the music and stuff!). But, hey ho, I guess it won't hurt to put another one of the same song in this post. Enjoy, peeps!

Erm, oh yeah, there are actually another 2 songs that I guessed might just boosts our spirit all out this football season. They are quite cool and catchy and yeah I did sing 'em sometimes in the shower or while I was doing the dishes (what a weirdo!). Here they are! Let's get all African this football season!

Waka Waka - Shakira (definitely rooting for Spain)

Oh Africa - Akon ft Keri Hilson

p/s: Btw, England sucked the match last night against Algeria. I really thought Algeria played better than the better-sponsored England team! Sorry, England! Can't really be that patriotic when you screwed the game!